Kara Swisher

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Windows Phone Head Myerson: Android “Still Kind of a Mess”


Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com

In an interview at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference today, the leader of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, Terry Myerson, said that the software giant’s mobile effort continued to cast it as a “challenger,” but that Google’s Android market was “still kind of a mess.”

Noting that Samsung is the only Android partner making money on the search giant’s platform, he added that there is “clearly mutiny in the Starship Android … as Chrome takes over Android, it’s going to be interesting.”

It was a deft dig by Myerson, whose company still plays the underdog in key mobile markets, which remain dominated by Google and also Apple’s iOS.

“We are in a challenger role,” he said. “Windows Phone is really an incredibly well-funded startup.”

It’s an image that works well, even if you do realize that Windows Phone is attached at the hip to a giant tech behemoth that simply has not kept up over the years as the ways consumers are computing have changed. When asked how much time Microsoft has to develop its business in the key arena, he added: “One of the elements of a startup is not only what you need to achieve, but some sense of urgency.”

You think?

To do that, Myerson noted that Windows Phone had to think more as a global competitor, because it had stronger momentum in markets where carriers were not subsidizing the phones, such as in Mexico, Poland and “even Finland, believe it or not.”

Oh, I believe it, but most focus remains on success in the key U.S. market, where Windows Phone has lagged behind.

Android and Google do better in markets, such as the U.S., where they put “their best innovation, but it sells at a volume of a $200 price point.”

Said Myerson: “If every phone is $200, we are the challenger at the same price; that’s a playing field that is a little harder.”

But Myerson said Microsoft’s Windows Phone efforts also had to differentiate to be successful. “I don’t want to come off too much on price,” he said. “The other part of it is the experience on the device.”

When asked later about whether Microsoft would allow Facebook, the social networking giant with which it has a close relationship, to put its recent Home phone layer on Microsoft’s phone platform, he did not rule it out.

He added, of course, that Google was probably trying to figure out a way to stop Home, which is built on top of Android. “There is probably a whole team [at Google],” said Myerson, devoted to trying to figure out a way to quash it.

When asked later about recent speculation that Microsoft was working on a smart watch as part of its offerings, Myerson declined to comment. But he joked, “You could strap the Surface [tablet] onto your wrist and call it is watch.”

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